Wolfe Tones hit out after Leinster Rugby apologises for playing Celtic Symphony

Wolfe Tones hit out after Leinster Rugby apologises for playing Celtic Symphony

IRISH band The Wolfe Tones have hit out after Leinster Rugby apologised for playing their song Celtic Symphony over their PA system.

The song, which features the refrain 'Oh, ah, up the Ra', was heard following Leinster's 41-12 victory over Connacht at the RDS Arena on Sunday before being cut short.

Ra is a shortened verbal version of 'IRA'.

Leinster apologised for the song being played following their United Rugby Championship win over the Westerners, however the Wolfe Tones have said complaints are an 'attempt to alienate Irish songs'.

The song was played following Leinster's United Rugby Championship win over Connacht at the RDS Arena on Monday night (Image: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

"A song was played over the PA at the RDS Arena this evening that shouldn't have been played," read a statement from Leinster Rugby on Sunday evening.

"Leinster Rugby has taken measures to ensure it doesn't happen again and apologises sincerely for its use and for any offence caused."

Reacting to the news, The Wolfe Tones said the apology was unnecessary, adding that critics are taking the song out of context.

"Why the need to apologise," they tweeted.

"Maybe those complaining should actually listen to the song in context … the usual suspects make yet another attempt to alienate Irish songs."

The song was written by the band in the 1980s to mark the centenary of Celtic football club.

Telling the story of a Glasgow sailor being pursued by the Devil, it reveals how the protagonist sees graffiti reading 'oh, ah, up the Ra'.

In 2019, Belfast boxer Michael Conlan apologised after the song was used for his ring walk before a fight with Ruben Garcia Hernandez at Madison Square Garden.

And last month, UEFA fined the FAI €20,000 after a video emerged of the Ireland women's national team singing the song following their qualification for the World Cup.

The FAI and team manager Vera Pauw apologised, however despite the furore, the song subsequently reached No. 1 on Ireland's iTunes chart.

Songwriter Brian Warfield defended the song in the wake of the video, telling the Irish Times that the IRA 'put us here and gave us some hope when we had no hope'.